At the session on film distribution and challenges, panelists say data analytics for better penetration and viewer experience is the way forward
BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | March 13, 2013
The analog print era, which is a century-old technology, will come to an end within 12 months. India needs to increase, if not double, the number of digital film screens with smaller capacities of 250-300 seats. However, the future will be defined by data analytics for better penetration and enhanced film viewing experience.At FICCI Frames 2013 session titled "Film distribution and exhibition: Challenges and way forward", moderated by Ashish Saksena, CEO, Reliance Big Cinemas, Rajesh Mishra, CEO - India, UFO Moviez, predicted the end of the analog era and prints within a year. He also added that India needs more screens and reduce screen density for the vast population. Referring to the pre-digitisation era, Mishra said that there were lots of challenges, cost of distribution and reach of films in the analog era. The reach of screens today had gone up five times, cost has come down to a fifth, and 90 per cent films today are on digital platform. “Analog is on its way out. It’s sad because it is a 100-year-old technology. Technology will take over where there is scope for optimisation. Within one year, the analog era in film exhibition and distribution will end. Kodak and Fuji are in dire straits. Traditional challenges of reach have phased out. For example, Shah Rukh Khan's ‘RaOne’ went in Orissa in 100 screens whereas 60 per cent of films don't go into Orissa in the first week,” he said.
Mishra added, “India is under-screened in cinemas. The USA has 38,000 screens while China has added 5,000 screens last year. The newer cinemas will not be 1,000-seaters but compact cinemas of 250-300 seats will come in the near future. Today, an exhibitor can make a cinema in six months but getting a licence to run a cinema takes 12 months! Transparency is in and everything is on record.”The Maharashtra government recently issued a circular whereby computerised cinema tickets are a must in all cinemas. Once this comes into being we can change the way business is done, Mishra said. Vikram Malhotra, COO, Viacom 18, said that digitisation is helping curb piracy but it will take five years to be fully effective. “The shift from big screen to small screen is evolutionary. The top two challenges are analytics and experiences. I release 18 films a year but I have no idea of optimal. A film is defined by its reach. One of the founding principles of any industry is to get access to data. What is the optimal penetration for any film? Is doubling our screen width the only solution? TV ratings define products,” he said.
Malhotra further said, “The unique visitors staying away. Hollywood makes fewer films but better films which give a better viewing experience. We can go from 9,000 to 18,000 screens – that is convenience. But the key is return on investment. Studios have promoted good content and professionalised the setup. Consumer research has showed the way for marketing spends. Blockbusters will give deliver greater ROI across all value chains for studios.”
Anil Thadani, film distributor, said that the film industry is based on relationships. He said, “Corporates take time but individuals take instant decisions. With Karan Johar and Rakesh Roshan going to independent distributors and selling rights, a new wave has been created. It is the experience that matters. If movie going becomes expensive, it limits the repetition. ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya’ started with 30 outlets – the ticket rates were Rs 30 and Rs 50 but revenues generated were as high as what is achieved by some blockbusters today.”